Film Reviews

Grimmfest – May Madness 2021

Grimmfest is back with May Madness this UK Bank Holiday weekend! We took a look at a trio of movies that you might never have heard of, playing as part of this event.

Narrated by the omniscient voice of The Overseer (William Shatner – Star Trek, Boston Legal), To Your Last Death is an animated movie in a motion comic style, which follows protagonist Miriam (Dani Lennon – The Casting Office, Bite Me) as the mysterious “Gamesmaster” (Morena Baccarin – Firefly, Deadpool) offers her the chance to relive the events of the night before and possibly save not only herself, but her brothers and sister from her sadistic father, Cyrus (Ray Wise – Twin Peaks, 24) who is out to murder them all. Or at least that’s what she tells herself. Is she actually having a psychotic break and has murdered them all herself or is this all just a delusion from a mentally ill woman strapped to a hospital bed?

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This isn’t a bad little movie all in all. It’s got some inventive kills, an interesting use of the Groundhog Day time-loop mechanic, bathtubs full of blood and gore, and a cabal of sadistic, bored, all-powerful beings who see their victims as little more than game pieces to be moved, changed and abused to entertain them. The style and presentation is very comic-book, even moving between panels and switching to “full page” spreads for some moments. The cast all turn in great performances, with special mention to Bill Moseley’s (Repo: The Genetic Opera, House of 1000 Corpses) wonderfully slimy performance as Pavel, and Steve Geiger (Scandal, Chicken Town) as the gloriously sadistic Jurek.

It’s a solid little movie that’s sure to amuse any horror fan, even if the final reveal of the Gamesmaster is a little on the cheesy side. Oh, and it’s also got a mid-credits stinger, so be sure to watch to the end!

The Nest, (oroginally titles The Bewailing) certainly wastes no time in going straight for the body horror. Not even five minutes in and already it’s going to have people with trypophobia cringing. Sadly, what then follows is an hour and forty minutes of tedium with occasional flashes of what this film could have been with a better script and better actors.

It appears to have been going for some sort of Invasion of the Body Snatchers/Invaders from Mars-like tale of slow infiltration and assimilation by something horrid, but ends up bogged down in a slow, turgid and mind-numbingly boring script that, as many horror films do, hinges on supposedly smart people making really stupid decisions.

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Let’s pose a hypothetical question. You are a parent (in this case mother Beth, played by Sarah Navratil, and father Jack, played by Kevin Patrick Murphy), attending a somewhat sketchy garage sale. A creepy old man gives your daughter Meg (played by Maple Suttles) a distinctly creepy teddy bear. Later you hear your daughter scream, and find her on the floor, unresponsive, her mouth ringed with some kind of black liquid. Lying on the ground next to her is the bear, COVERED in the same stuff. Do you then….

A: Burn the bear with extreme prejudice.
B: Bag it up and send it off to be tested for something toxic.
C: Clean it up, take it home, and put it in your daughter’s bed like nothing happened.

If your answer was C then congratulations! You qualify to be a parent in this film. While this could have been given a pass if the rest of the movie was interesting, what follows is an utterly forgettable slog of a film looking at parental responsibilities and separation anxiety while spending nowhere near enough time on creepy bugs. The only reason this film doesn’t score a 1 is because at least it’s not Astro or Jurassic Thunder.

Vicious Fun certainly lives up to its title. It is both vicious, and a lot of fun. Set in the neon-drenched 1980s that only seems to exist in movies, Joel (Evan Marsh – Shazam, Skal) is a writer for a horror magazine who spends his life watching movies and pining after his roommate Sarah (Alexa Rose Steele – Level 16, Wildflower) who has him squarely in the friend zone.

Believing that the man his roommate is dating, a real estate salesman called Bob (Ari Millen – The Oak Room, Orphan Black), might actually be married and lying to her, he sets out to follow Bob to a chinese restaurant. One thing leads to another and Joel ends up so drunk that he passes out in a broom closet.

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Waking up he finds the restaurant closed and there’s some sort of small support meeting going on. Not knowing what’s going on and deciding to play dumb he joins in, playing along with the assumption that he is the group’s missing member. It turns out that he’s not stumbled into an AA meeting, or a drug rehab support circle. Nope. This is a support group for, well, serial killers. When Joel is finally outed as, well, not being a mass murderer then it’s going to take more than an encyclopaedic knowledge of horror movies to save him.

While a little slow to get going, once the film finds its stride it’s a delight to watch. There’s lots of knowing nods and winks with our serial killers embodying very specific niches. You’ve got Bob, who is a very American Psycho/Patrick Bateman type. Mike, who is every Jason Voorhees/Michael Myers-esque masked killer. Fritz, who is a creepy, emotionless clown, and Hideo who combines his love of killing and his love of food by eating his victims. Scrummy. Definitely check this one out if you get the chance, it’s a blast. It also features someone getting strangled to death with intestines, which I don’t think I’ve seen since the last time I watched Reanimator.

Grimmfest’s May Madness event is playing online until the end of the Bank Holiday weekend.

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